Cat kneading 101
Cat kneading is that cute little motion you see your cat doing which looks like she’s making bread. Lifting her little paws up and down (usually on you) giving you the perfect little massage. It is adorable to watch but there are reasons why cats knead.
Have you ever wondered ‘why do cats knead’ whilst you were staring at them adorably of course.
Or even why do cats knead you?
What does a cat knead mean
Well, kneading in cats as mentioned above is the motion of your cat lifting their paws up and down in an alternate motion. Cats can knead with no claws and some cats will extend their claws whilst kneading.
It is often referred to as making biscuits as the movement resembles a baker making dough. It is always done on something soft or something with a soft surface. Pillows, comforters, another cat or kitten, a dog or even your lap.
Most often cat kneading is also accompanied with soothing purring and sometimes your cat can drool as she kneads. Don’t panic, kneading is quite relaxing and therapeutic to your cat so the drooling is normal.
Why do cats knead though, is another story.
Many people have different theories on why cats knead, but there is one reason without a doubt to explain why kittens knead and the motion is then continued on to adult feline hood.
New-born kittens knead their mothers’ nipples to stimulate milk flow whilst their nursing. It is thought the motion of the kneading, much like human babies and suckling, helps the mother cat to produce more, and a constant flow of milk.
Another theory which has since been debunked was that kittens who were taken away from their mothers too early would knead and continue to knead into adulthood.
This isn’t accurate though as almost all adult cats knead.
Cats also knead grass, especially outdoor or wild cats. Wild cats would often pat down long strands of grass or foliage to make themselves a shelter or bed.
This practice would also be used to make a nest for kitten birth. This is often why cats knead before they lay down and which is why cats knead their bed.
It is possible that kneading goes back to the wild cats and in has been passed down through the ages as a way to make an area comfortable before settling down for a nap.
Cat kneading is perfectly normal behavior, it is something that is built into their genetic code from birth. Cats knead for various reasons, read on to learn more.
Kittens knead for milk
As mentioned above. Kittens often knead the mother cats nipples to stimulate milk flow whilst feeding from her.
Cats knead for attention
It is also thought cats knead you for affection. Kneading is something cats do when they feel comfortable and safe. It is a form of relaxation and shows that your cat trusts you.
Within the soft padded bottoms of cat paws, cats have scent glands. When they knead, they leave their scent on to the surface (or person) being kneaded. This scent which they leave around is a mark of territory.
It is there to warn other cats ‘this is my property’. So, as annoying or painful as it can sometimes be your cat isn’t just telling you she feels comfortable and safe around you. She is in fact telling other cats that you are hers.Cat scratching is another way they leave their scent behind.
Going into heat is also a reason why cats knead. Kneading is a sign to male cats she is ready and willing to mate. As her heat cycle goes on your cat will meow more often than normal. This meow will quickly grow into a loud and regular yell. This is to get the attention of male cats. During this time, she will also pace around your house quite restlessly and you may see her spraying areas of your house with urine. The only way to stop this is to have your cat spayed.
Why does my cat knead me?
Well, we have established it is because she loves you. But there is something you can do to help your cat knead comfortably for you and her.
Trimming your cats’ claws and keeping them under control is a good option. Visit your vet or get yourself a cat nail trimmer. Please be careful when declawing though as if it isn’t done right it can be painful and deforming for your cat.
If your cat is persistently kneading you then it is probably a good idea to keep a rolled-up blanket in your favorite spots to sit. Whenever your cat starts to knead you then move her onto the blanket and after a couple of moves, she will understand.
You can also put a thick blanket over your lap if you appreciate the kneading, but it is just a little bit too painful.
Another trick to stop your cat kneading you is to gently roll your cat down into a laying position. There is a good chance she will settle down and fall asleep.
You could also try folding her front paws together, petting her or using cat toys and puzzles to distract her.
Most experts agree punishing your cat for a natural behavior isn’t preferable, she can’t control her genetic urges.